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How to talk to your church about persecution



  • October 10, 2018
Emily Towns

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Sanji wakes up, hoping it was all a dream. The day before, he received news that his brother, a local pastor, had been killed. His brother was attacked by his own neighbors, simply because he dared to share his faith. Sanji himself has faced abuse for years … but he never expected to lose a family member.

Sadly, this wasn’t a dream. And for many believers, violent attacks are a daily reality.

Christians around the world are facing horrific persecution. They deal with physical and emotional abuse from those around them — including their friends and family.

Right now persecution in China is the worst it’s been in decades. Believers are watching as their churches are destroyed and Bibles burned.

Believers in North Korea are facing up to 15 years of brutal treatment in the country’s labor camps — brutal treatment that few will survive.

And Christians in Syria and Nigeria are running for their lives, uprooted because of their beliefs.

On Nov. 4, Christians around the world will come together for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. On that day, we will remember our brothers and sisters who are suffering in Jesus’ name.

Their stories are often difficult to hear and difficult to share, especially with young children. But it is important that the church continues to remember those who are persecuted and lift them up in prayer.

Here are several suggestions you can use with your congregation:

Talking about persecution with children

Persecution stories can often be violent and a little scary. This can make it difficult to teach children about why they should pray for their Christian brothers and sisters around the world. But it is incredibly important to teach our children at an early age about the suffering of the global church.

One way to do this is by connecting the idea of persecution to something in a child’s life. You can ask if they’ve ever seen anyone bullied or if they’ve ever lost anything important to them. By using a child’s own experiences, you can help put persecution into perspective.

Another thing you can do is look at global persecution through the eyes of a child. Many of the stories we hear are about adults, but those adults are often parents or siblings. They have children in their lives who are greatly affected by persecution, too. You can use our — one of the many resources available on our website — to share some of their stories in an easy-to-understand, child-friendly way.

Using these prayers and the companion coloring sheet, you can help children in your church learn about persecution and what they can do to help.

Talking about persecution with teens

Teenagers can handle more difficult content than you think. You can engage teenagers with compelling personal stories of persecution — stories like Anit’s, Emmanuel’s, and more. By using resources like our , you can encourage your youth group to join the global church in prayer. Sharing these stories and prayer requests will help capture students’ hearts and show them the importance of lifting up our brothers and sisters in prayer.

Another way you can share about persecution with teenagers is by creating an underground church experience. You can give your students a small taste of what a persecuted believer might go through by having a quiet service with few lights and few Bibles.

Talking about persecution with adults

While most adults hear about persecution in the news, they may not have a clear picture of what persecution actually looks like. Using resources such as our PowerPoint presentation about some of the world’s most persecuted countries, you can paint a clear picture of what Christian suffering looks like in Syria, Cuba, North Korea, and around the globe. This will allow your congregation to pray specifically for Christians in each country.

A creative and powerful way to represent persecution is by asking your church to hold a small group, using only the Bible verses they can remember. After all, many Christians have never even held a copy of God’s Word. They remain faithful to His calling, even though they know only a few pieces of Scripture. This is an excellent way to illustrate the faith of persecuted Christians around the world.

It also introduces a way your congregation can make a major difference — by sending Bibles to Christians in North Korea. All it takes is $10 to print, ship, and secretly distribute a copy of God’s Word to one persecuted believer or seeker.

Of course, the most important thing you can do with any member of your congregation is communicating that, for these believers, Jesus is worth dying for. In the midst of their suffering, they only want to share the Gospel with more people. As we gather together in prayer for these brave men and women, we can be inspired and encouraged to live out our faith like they do.

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